Premier Christy Clark released her government's latest update on the BC Jobs Plan noting that significant progress has been made to strengthen the province's economy, with 11 of 19 targets already met at the 18-month mark.
"When it comes to creating jobs, there is no miracle cure or overnight success," said Premier Clark. "Instead, we have to focus on strengthening B.C.'s economy over the long term. That's what the BC Jobs Plan is all about - and that's exactly what it's doing."
Launched in September 2011, the BC Jobs Plan is government's strategy to grow B.C's economy and create jobs. The 18-Month Progress report highlights government's continued focus on skills training and attracting foreign trade and investment to B.C.
Targets met since the previous update include:
- Having 10 new non-treaty agreements in place with B.C. First Nations by 2015;
- Reducing the Water and Land Act permit backlog by 50 per cent; and
- Putting in place a strict new quality assurance system for international education.
"Above all, the 18-Month Progress Report shows the huge amount of solid, persistent effort being made across government to strengthen B.C.'s economy and help British Columbians take advantage of every opportunity," said Pat Bell, Minister of Jobs, Tourism, and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour. "Eighteen months ago we set out a plan, and today we are seeing the benefits of that long-term thinking."
"Our government has laid out a clear strategy under the BC Jobs Plan and has already achieved 11 of 19 identified targets," said Terry Lake, MLA for Kamloops-North Thompson. "Our strategy is delivering results today, with over 41,000 jobs created since 2011, and securing our future by preparing for jobs that will be created over the next decade."
The report also updates British Columbians on government's progress to strengthen B.C.'s economy through the 17 commitments and 61 actions set out in the plan. Highlights include:
- Doubling B.C.'s international presence and opening new trade and investment offices in Hong Kong, Mumbai and Chandigarh;
- Expanding the Mobile Business Licence program with two, one-year pilot projects in 12 Lower Mainland communities, enabling employers to operate across municipal and provincial borders;
- Working with communities through the Enhanced Community Economic Support Initiative to identify and take advantage of economic opportunities. This includes training 250 leaders in local government and First Nations through ten Economic Essentials workshops by March 2013;
- Launching new electronic Notice of Work applications in February 2013 to help maintain an average 60-day turnaround time - part of government's efforts to enhance the regulatory framework for forests, lands and natural resources;
- Funding approximately 320 graduate student internships in the Mitacs-Accelerate program in 2012-13 to promote entrepreneurship education;
- Attracting more international students to B.C. through a new international marketing strategy, a refreshed LearnLiveBC website, and seven Education Marketing Managers based in trade and investment offices around the world;
- Continuing to implement $22 billion in Asia Pacific Gateway infrastructure improvements, including the recently opened Port Mann Bridge - officially the world's widest; and
- Laying the groundwork for a new liquefied natural gas industry in B.C. with, for example, amendments to the Clean Energy Act, development of a Natural Gas Workforce Action Plan (by April 2013), and better skills training equipment for Northern Lights College - the province's headquarters for a new BC Centre of Training Excellence in Oil and Gas.
"Members of the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council were very pleased when transportation was recognized as one of the key sectors of the BC Jobs Plan," said Bob Wilds, managing director of the Greater Vancouver Gateway Council. "Today's report demonstrates significant progress, and we look forward to continuing to work with government officials to ensure that our province has the necessary skilled workforce, legislative and regulatory environment, and required infrastructure to achieve our full potential."
"The labour shortage for the natural gas industry - forecasted in coming years - is a challenge shared with other industries, especially in Western Canada," said David Pryce, vice-president, operations, Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers. "It therefore makes sense to work collaboratively to address and support government initiatives that enable labour force growth. It will require concerted effort in each of the areas of attracting and retaining Canadians, building and developing the Canadian workforce, immigration and temporary foreign workers, and improving productivity and efficiency."
"Economically, British Columbia is holding its own in an unsettled and uncertain world," said Greg D'Avignon, president and CEO, Business Council of British Columbia. "The record volume of goods being shipped through our West Coast ports and the prospect of new industries like LNG are signs that the Jobs Plan's Asia-Pacific strategy is working."
- Signs that B.C. remains on track with a stable and growing economy:
- Forecasted GDP growth of 1.6 per cent
- Overall job growth, with 47,100 jobs added since August 2011
- A declining unemployment rate (6.3 per cent in January 2013)
- An "A" from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business for regulatory reform - the only province to receive an "A"
- $80 billion in major projects, with an estimated value for proposed projects at $156.3 billion
- A triple-A credit rating
- Record exports from B.C.'s ports
- A diversified export market, with just 40 per cent of B.C.'s exports going to the U.S. (compared to Alberta's 87 per cent and Ontario's 78 per cent)
BC Jobs Plan: www.bcjobsplan.ca
A factsheet follows.
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training
Office of the Premier
The BC Jobs Plan: Progress in the Thompson-Okanagan
Regional employment statistics:
- 110,320 job openings are expected in the Thompson-Okanagan region to 2020; nearly 28 per cent of these (30,740) are expected to be newly created jobs.
- The year-to-date unemployment rate of 6.9 per cent (as of February 2013) is lower than the same time last year at 8.6 per cent.
Region-specific activities under the BC Jobs Plan include:
- In fall 2011, Thompson Rivers University (TRU) opened the first-ever TRU World office in Vancouver. This office allows TRU to strengthen services for international students, agents and partner schools in the Lower Mainland.
- In November 2011, TRU opened an office in Bangalore and launched an integrated social media campaign for Indian students. The opening coincided with Premier Christy Clark's visit to India.
- In May 2012, TRU and officials from the National Taichung University of Education (NTCU) in Taiwan signed an agreement to explore collaborative opportunities in education and arts programs, as well as joint research initiatives between the two universities. The new agreement with NTCU is TRU's first such partnership with a university in Taiwan.
- In June 2012, a student exchange agreement was signed between UBC Okanagan and the University of York in the U.K. While the exchange program is open to all areas, there is special interest in pursuing an exchange to allow third-year students from UBC's faculty of creative and critical studies to study at York's department of theatre, film and television.
- In September 2012, the Province provided $28 million to Okanagan College to expand and renovate existing trades training facilities at the Kelowna Campus. In December 2012, an additional $867,000 was provided to the college for the purchasing of new skills training equipment.
- In the kindergarten - Grade 12 system, the Province recently announced that it will contribute $6.3 million in partnership funding towards a new NorKam Secondary Trades and Technology Centre of Excellence in Kamloops.
- In September 2012, New Gold opened the New Afton Mine. The underground gold, copper and silver mine employed over 400 people when opened, including more than 100 B.C. Mine Training Association candidates. The Province has also approved a major expansion of the Highland Valley Copper Mine near Ashcroft.
- A series of workshops for local leaders have been tailor-made to provide participants with training related to a full range of economic development activities in their communities, including attracting investment and supporting new and existing ventures. A Thompson Okanagan local leaders' workshop, facilitated by the Economic Development Association of B.C., was held in Kamloops in February of 2013; a Penticton workshop is scheduled for late April.
- A network of seven education marketing managers are now in place in British Columbia's trade and investment offices in China, India, Korea, and Japan, with additional positions engaged on the international education file in B.C.'s United States and European Union offices.
- This network supports the international education sector by promoting B.C.'s competitive advantages to potential students, identifying and co-ordinating partnerships between B.C. institutions and international organizations, and participating in missions and trade shows.
- The education marketing managers visited B.C. educational institutions throughout the province this spring as part of an orientation tour. Co-ordinated by the British Columbia Council for International Education, the week-long mission included school visits and roundtables involving Okanagan College, UBC Okanagan, Thompson River University, and Kelowna, Vernon and Kamloops school districts.
Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training
Office of the Premier